Cook Arford

Easy recipes from Apple Tree

Tag: For Students (page 2 of 3)

Quesadillas – snack or meal

This can be a quick and easy warm snack or a meal in itself, depending what you put in it or on it. For a snack, omit the chicken, or just add a few slithers of ham.

Ingredients (For One) – easily multiplied up for more people.

  • 2 flour tortillas
  • 1 small chicken breast or a couple of mini fillets
  • grated cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of Taco seasoning mix
  • Taco sauce
  • Oil for frying

Step 1: Slice up the chicken. Stir about in a bowl with the taco seasoning to coat.

Step 2: Heat your oil in a frying pan and stir fry the chicken, it will cook in a couple of minutes.

Step 3: Lay out your tortillas. Spread one tortilla with Taco sauce. Spread the chicken over. Sprinkle with cheese, use as much as you like. Lay the other tortilla on top to make a giant sandwich.

Step 4: Quickly rinse out your pan and dry it. Put it back on a high heat. Put the tortilla sandwich on the pan and after a minute flip it over. Hopefully the cheese will have melted and help glue it together. Give it another 30 seconds and you are good to go.

Cut into quarters and either eat on the run like street food or make a meal of it with sour cream, jalopenos, lettuce, tomato, refried beans, guacamole and a Corona.

Gammon Casserole

This is very easy and cheap. You can either use the leftover half of your Sunday gammon joint or buy a small joint (750g about £3 in Tesco) and use that. To feed four greedy people you need:

  • Gammon/ham joint, cooked or uncooked, fat and rind removed.
  • 1 onion
  • 2 parsnips
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 potatoes
  • 200ml white wine or dry cider
  • 400ml water
  • Sprig of thyme
  • 400gm tin of flageolet beans or similar
  • 400gm tin of butter beans
  • Large handful of frozen peas
  • Chopped parsley

Heat a large saucepan or metal casserole on the stove with a tablespoon of oil.  If your ham is uncooked, brown the ham and remove. Chop the root vegetables roughly and add to the pan. Sweat gently for five minutes. Add the cider or wine, water, thyme and beans. Cook for one hour. Add the peas, cook three minutes more. Adjust the seasoning, add chopped parsley and serve!

Cheat’s Nasi Goreng

Purists will say this is not authentic, I will say quick, easy and near enough! Here are the ingredients for one person, you can easily scale it up.

  • 60gm basmati rice, cooked then well drained
  • I carrot, grated
  • 1/4 small head of sweetheart cabbage or Chinese leaves, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove or paste
  • 1 tbs light soy sauce
  • 1 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 egg beaten
  • oil for stir frying

Cook your rice and leave it to drain well. If it is too wet it makes the stir-fry a bit clumpy. Meanwhile,  fry the onion gently until soft. Add the garlic, fry 30 seconds then add the carrot and cabbage. Whack up the heat and stir fry the vegetables. After a couple of minutes add the rice and keep stir frying on a high heat. Add the sauces and stir again. Now shove the mix to one side of the pan to make a space on the bottom to fry your egg. If the pan is a bit dry add a splash more of oil. Now trickle streams of egg only the pan base. It will cook into a mini omelette almost immediately. Lift onto your rice pile and repeat until your egg is all cooked. Job done! I like to serve with a zingy chilli sauce.



Student Puddings

Easy and quick recipes for puddings in case you need to impress someone.

Banoffee Pie
Based on a flan dish about 20cm diameter. You need (in addition to the flan dish)

– 250g packet of digestive biscuits
– 100g butter
– 4 bananas
– 300ml carton of whipping cream
– Tin of Carnation Caramel
– Chocolate to grate over

Crush the biscuits by putting  three or four at a time in a plastic bag and rolling a tin over them. Melt the butter in a pan or microwave. Mix with the biscuit crumbs. Line the base of the flan tin and gently press down but not too hard or it will become an impenetrable crust. Put in the fridge for an hour to firm up. Then spread the base with the caramel. Slice the bananas and layer on top of the caramel. Whip the cream (this will be tough without an electric beater!), and blob it on the bananas. Sprinkle grated chocolate on top. (If you don’t have a grater, you can use a potato peeler). Done, and ready to eat – or chill but don’t keep it too long, a couple of days max.

Dessert in a Glass

This recipe is more a set of creative guidelines, and the options are endless. You will need drinking glasses – small tumblers or large wine glasses. Then you will create three layers.

Base layer: Crumbly. This can be based on crushed digestive biscuits, porridge oats or even Swiss-Style meuseli. Mix the crumbs with half their weight of melted butter. Layer in the bottom of the glass but don’t press down.
Middle layer: Creamy. This can be creme fraiche, plain yoghurt, or yoghurt with a spoon or two of lemon curd or seedless jam swirled through.
Top layer: Fruity. This needs to go with the flavour you have used in the middle layer (if you did), and can be rasberries, quartered grapes, chopped mango, chopped drained tinned peaches, a mixture (halves grapes, strawberries and pineapple look good (buy a lunch pot of prepared fruit if you only need a few)

Chill it to allow the base layer to go hard which won’t take long.
A slight variation on this is to use a can of rice pudding,  a jar of apple sauce and blackberries. Put a layer of rice pudding as the base layer, then a layer of apple sauce, then a few blackberries, then more rice pudding, then a few more blackberries. Sprinkle brown (demera or soft brown) sugar over.

P!ss-Head Trifle

Not your nursery food  version. Preferably use a glass bowl for this.

– A Swiss Roll
– Packet of rasberries
– 1 banana
– 500g ready made custard (or make a pint of thick custard and let it go cold)
– 300ml double cream
– Sherry – sweet, medium, dry, who cares.
– Toasted flaked almonds or “Hundreds and Thousands” cake sprinkles

Slice the swiss roll in 2cm slices and line the bottom of the bowl, packing closely together. Pour the sherry all over it. Delia Smith says 60ml, Olwyn uses three times that. More if you dare. Slice the banana and add as the next layer, with the rasberries. Then pour over the cold custard. Whip the cream, and layer on top of that. Decorate with the almonds, or sprinkles. Not exactly difficult! The volume of sherry makes this either kiddy food or wow! food.

Eton Mess

This is just a mixture of sliced strawberries, broken meringue and whipped cream in roughly equal quantities, stirred about to look like a mess. Mush a few of the strawberries to make it messier. It does look a mess, but tastes good. It is a British Classic recipe.

Tips to avoid poisoning yourself at Uni


Bad things can happen when you don’t quite realise the significance of food hygiene. Most of it is common sense but not everyone has had the good fortune to watch Mama in the kitchen for 18 years, this is the 21st century for goodness sake. So here are a few wise tips for keeping your dinner going the right way through you.

In food factories they have two zones: High Care for food that is not going to be cooked to kill bacteria before being eaten, and Low Care which is food that will be cooked to kill bacteria before eating. It is important that Low care stuff does not contaminate High Care stuff. For example:

Raw chicken and pork: Never let raw chicken and pork products come into contact with anything that is going into your mouth without further cooking, such as salads, forks and spoons etc. Even cutting salad on the same board that raw chicken has been on can cause contamination. Keep High Care and Low Care separate, and wash boards, utensils and your hands when moving from Low Care to High Care. The other way round doesn’t matter.

Eggs: Would you put your hands on a chicken’s bum? That is where the egg has come from and in the UK, eggs are not washed before sale. After touching an egg, maybe to break it into your recipe, wash your hands before touching anything else. In the UK, eggs last three weeks or more at room temperature before going off. In the USA where they are more squeamish about these things, eggs are washed. The down-side of this is the water actually washes bacteria into the pores of the shell so the shelf-life of US eggs is days, not weeks.

Messing with food: The more food is processed before cooking, the shorter the shelf-life. A whole meat carcass can last a month in the chiller. Once it is jointed, shelf-life reduces and highly processed cuts like cubed meat and mince has a very short shelf life – a few days only in the fridge, hours only at room temperature.

Gas: Packaged food is often “flooded” (industry term) with an inert gas like nitrogen to exclude other gases that allow bacteria to grow. This is fine and dandy, but the shelf-life on the packet assumes the gas is still in there. As soon as you puncture the packet by opening, or the gas leaks through a bad seal, bacteria will start to grow and the printed shelf life is no longer valid. Best to eat quickly once opened! This is particularly true for salad leaves (see Messed With above) and mince.

Sell-By/Eat-By and Best Before dates: by law all packaged food has to have one of these dates stamped on it. Perishable food that might cause you harm if eaten after too long has a Sell By and Eat By date. This is a date worked out in a laboratory and has a margin of safety built in. It also assumes the food is being kept at the recommended temperature. So already you can see it is not accurate! You still have to rely on your eyes and nose to tell is something is dodgy. If it looks bad it is bad. If it doesn’t look bad it is probably OK – for example yogurt kept in a fridge can last a couple of weeks past its Sell-By date.  Best Before dates are exactly that – better before and worse after but not deadly.  If you don’t mind the taste not being as good, or the colour fading or the texture not being quite right, you can eat food after the Best Before date but again, if it looks bad it is bad.

Dried beans: Some you have to soak, some not. Either way, when you cook them, boil like crazy for ten minutes then cook as the recipe requires for the rest of the time. This is because dried pulses carry toxins which need to be zapped by a hard boil and are not zapped by a long simmer, which is probably what you were planning to do.

The fridge! Yes, danger lurks within for the unwary. A fridge needs to operate at 5deg C or below to minimise the chance of bacteria growing and turning into toxins that will make you ill. Also, make sure  Low Care foods (see above) don’t contact High Care food. Here is a quick Tip List For The Fridge:

  • Buy a fridge thermometer and make sure the fridge thermostat dial is set so the inside temperature is below 5deg C
  • Make sure the door shuts properly and don’t leave it open too long – this allows the fridge to warm up.
  • Never put warm items of food into the cold fridge. Let them cool to room temperature first otherwise you will warm up the entire fridge
  • Never allow uncooked meat such as chicken and pork products to touch food that won’t be cooked before you eat it (High Care) such as salads and cheese.
  • Never put uncooked meat above High Care products because juices containing harmful bacteria can drip down.
  • Don’t put cucumber, lettuce and strawberries in a very cold fridge (0-2 deg C) because they will freeze and turn to mush when they thaw. Disgusting but won’t actually kill you.

Tips for when you go to Uni.

Before we start, here is a guide to quantities for those who don’t have a set of weighing scales. You are going to need a ruler and a measuring jug or set of American cup measuring sets instead. You can easily calculate the quantities you need with a bit of multiplication or division.
Spaghetti: a bunch of dry spaghetti 20mm diameter and 250mm long is one portion (3oz or 85 grams)
Pasta shapes: 250ml is one portion (3oz or 85 grams) but it depends on the shapes, some pack more densely than others. A large mug, heaped, is a good guide.
Rice: 70ml is one portion (2oz or 60 grams)
Couscous: 70ml is one portion (2oz or 60 grams)
Sugar: 50ml is 50grams
Flour: 50ml is 50grams
Butter: 1 cubic centimetre is about 1 gram
Cheese: 1 cubic centimetre is about 1.15 grams

How to cook pasta:
1. Put what you think is enough pasta in a pan of boiling water
2. Boil until done
3. That was too much

Corned Beef Hash (or Chorizo Hash)

If you don’t like corned beef which I admit does smell like cat food, use sliced chorizo  for a Spanish touch.
Ingredients (For One) – easily multiplied up for more people. If you have leftover cooked boiled potatoes use these and omit Step 1 below

  • 2 or 3 medium sized potatoes
  • Half an onion, chopped (optional)
  • Half a 340g tin of corned beef (use the other half sliced in sandwiches, it slices well when cold from the fridge) or, about 75g sliced chorizo
  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • 1 egg
  • Chopped fresh parsley (optional), about a tablespoon
  • Salt and pepper

Step 1: If you are using raw potatoes, peel them then chop into cubes about the size of a sugar cube (12mm across). Boil for  five minutes. Drain very thoroughly.
Step 2: Put a generous glug of oil in a frying pan. Fry the onion gently if using, until soft but not browning.
Step 3: Add the potatoes, and fry, turning around with a spatula, until just starting to look brown and crispy.
Step 4: Add the corned beef or chorizo and keep stirring about until it starts to look a lot more brown and crispy.
The next stage is up you you – you can eat as it is, or poach or fry an egg to put on top, you can put chopped parsley through, you can lash it with black pepper and a bit more salt, then eat with tomato sauce, hot sauce or any kind of sauce you like.

Balti Mince

You can cook mince in many difference ways starting from the same point: taco mince, chilli, Bolognese, shepherd’s pie and also this Indian version.
Instructions are vague as this is something you can experiment with. Recipe for one:

  • 125g beef mince (not too lean)
  • Balti Curry Paste in a jar
  • Garlic puree
  • Half a small onion chopped
  • Tomato
  • A small potato, cubed

Other soft vegetable as available: a handful of peas, a quarter of a pepper, or a few mushrooms, or half a courgette or whatever else is lying around
Fry the onion is some oil. Add the garlic, fry briefly then add the mince. Fry and stir until browned. This is how you start many recipes. Now add a tablespoon of Balti curry paste. Having tried it you may decide to use more next time. Now add a tomato, chopped, and stir around in the pan briefly. Now add a cup of water, the potato and the veg. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. It should be gloopy: if too runny leave the lid off and boil some of that juice away, if it dries out add a bit more water. Adjust the seasoning and serve with rice or naan bread. Feel free to experiment. You can make it more tomato-ey with some tomato puree; add some mango chutney; different veg; more curry paste and so on. It is not a purist’s Balti but pretty nice all the same.

Mac Cheese

Ingredients (For one greedy person) – easily multiplied up for more people.

  • 350ml milk
  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 100g Cheddar cheese grated
  • 175g dried pasta shapes, penne or macaroni is best
  • 1 tsp mustard (optional)
  • Breadcrumbs

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour. Mix together to form a paste. With the heat on medium to low, add the milk gradually while stirring to mix it it. Keep stirring and increase the heat slightly, and within a few minutes it should thicken. Add most of the cheese, and the mustard (this brings out the cheese flavour). Add some salt and pepper and stir well to melt. Mix in the drained, cooked pasta. You could eat it at this point, sprinkle on the rest of the cheese and forget the breadcrumbs. If can bear to wait, put the mac cheese mixture in an oven proof bowl, top with the breadcrumbs and cheese and bake in the oven at 180 deg C for 15 – 20 minutes. If you are going for the baked version make sure the sauce is not to thick as the baking will dry it out. If it looks too stodgy, mix in some more milk before you add the topping. For even more of a feast serve with grilled bacon and tomatoes, and even toast triangles.

Fifteen Minute Meal (don’t ask what, just look)

This one one of those recipes with lots of options. Fundamentally it is a quick bean stew with meat on top. You can use what is available, as follows:
Ingredients (for one) – easily multiplied:

  • Meat thing ( a lamb steak, a chicken breast or a bacon chop, even a couple of sausages)
  • half a tin of either butter beans, canellini beans, black-eye beans, flageolet beans, pinto beans or similar
  • half an onion
  • a garlic clove
  • Other veg you may have to hand – chose two or three from: a carrot, a celery stick, half a red pepper, a small courgette, a lonely potato
  • 1 mug boiling chicken stock (if using chicken or pork), or lamb or beef stock if using a lamb steak
  • half a teaspoon paprika
  • Oil, salt, pepper

Take your onions and vegetables and chop to about sugar cube size. Heat the oil in a pan and sweat the veg and garlic until soft. Add the paprika and stir around for a bit longer. Pour in the stock, cover and simmer gently for ten minutes. Add the beans (drained) and heat for another five. If you are hungry and on your own use the whole tin, why not. Check the seasoning and add some if needed, it depends on your stock.
In another pan heat a spoon of oil and cook your meat thing both sides until done.  You can speed this up for chicken by slicing the breast into 1cm slices cross-ways, it will be cooked in about four minutes!

Serve your bean and vegetable stew in a bowl with the meat on top. Sprinkle with fresh parsley if you have some. Eat.

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